Now growing at Florida Polytech: Smart gardens

- At first, it looks like any other garden, but it’s not. Students at Florida Polytechnic are using so-called intelligent farming to try and grow bigger, healthier and more bountiful harvests.

“If we are going to provide wellness in the form of food as medicine, with the most healthy, nutrient-dense foods, it requires technology,” explained Jennifer Waxman-Loyd, founder of Seed2Source, which specializes in superfoods.

The students are using technology such as mini computers and sensors in the garden which collect information about the plants and the growing conditions.

The sensors measure moisture in the soil, temperature and even factors that affect the plants’ ability to take in nutrients.

That information is then sent to the lab where students analyze it. From the data, the students can adjust the environmental conditions to make them as close to perfect as possible.

Along with learning about technology, students are learning about humanity. They give the veggies they grow to people in local income communities.

“Showing them that giving back can return 10 times more,” said Dr. Nicoleta Hickman, who oversees the project. “It has a huge impact on how they look at life.”

What is going on at Polytech may be a snapshot of the future. Agriculture has to kick into high gear if it is going to keep up with population growth.  By 2050, it is estimated that the earth’s population will be well over 9 billion people.

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